Hiddur Mitzvah: Beautiful Ritual
According to Jewish tradition, we should not just complete the ritual, even with the best of intentions. Instead, we should try to make it beautiful, rich with color and texture. This is the reasoning behind the adorned candle sticks for Shabbat and the beautiful melodies for our prayers. We want our rituals to be mouthwatering and eye catching, resonating with all of our sensory experiences so that our souls can soar. When we incorporate garden beauty, recycled creativity, and the personal effort of using the garden for ritual, we add to this value of Hiddur Mitzvah.
In the Five Senses Garden at Temple Beth Shalom of Vero Beach, Florida, the students connect the garden and nature with ritual. From harvesting herbs for Havdalah services, to creating dream pillows in order to learn about Hashkivenu (the prayer for a good night’s sleep), we seek to use the produce of the garden to add flavor and color to our acts of Avodah. When students plant, care for, and harvest the cotton for our Shabbat oil lamp, the experience of saying the blessing and kindling the Shabbat lights reaches new depth and beauty. Each garden offers opportunities produce or plants that can be used to beautify Jewish rituals.